South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised the recent appointment of Pitso Mosimane as the coach of Egypt’s champions Ahly, saying the step is a demonstration of African unity.
“Pitso Mosimane will be missed as a force in South African football but his appointment by our continent’s flagship club strengthens the bonds of friendship between our two countries,” Ramaphosa said via the official website of the presidency of the Republic of South Africa on Saturday morning.
“It is also a recognition of the talent and capability that resides within our own continent. I wish Pitso and his team well as they fly our flag and the flag of continental football with a club in whose success all Africans take pride,” he added.
Mosimane resigned from his post as the coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, whom he led to five South African league titles and a Champions League crown in eight years, to take over at the record eight-time African champions Ahly on Thursday.
Ahly's move for the 56-year-old took many by surprise, given their traditional preference to bring in European coaches.
The presidential statement hailed Ahly as Africa’s most successful football club which has a long history of coaches from other continents, referring to the fact that Mosimane will be assisted by three countrymen, former assistants in Sundowns, in Ahly.
Mosimane takes over from Swiss Rene Weiler, who turned down Ahly's offer to stay until the end of their African Champions League campaign, saying the club had declined to give him time to discuss his future with his family back home.
Under Weiler, the Red Devils romped to a fifth consecutive Egyptian Premier League title and reached the last four of the Champions League, the competition they crave much.
Ahly had not won Africa's blue-riband competition since 2013, losing two successive finals in 2017 and 2018. They face Morocco's Wydad in a mouthwatering two-legged semifinal later this month.
Mosimane will make his debut when Ahly meet Arab Contractors in the Egyptian league on Sunday.
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